Finally, my post on my night time routine.  Please bear with me as I might get a little long-winded here.  Let's get right to it.  

I'm the kind of girl who likes to strip down when I walk in the door after a long day.  First goes the bra, then the makeup.  I wash my face first with a basic cleanser, then I tone.  I switch between a Rosacea toner and the Pixie Glow Tonic.  If my skin seems a little sensitive I go for the Rosacea one, and if I'm having a good skin day I will use the Glow Tonic.  I do love this Glow Tonic; you can only get it at Target, by the way.

Then I go about my evening.  This next part is the life-changing, clinically proven secret to keeping your youth:  Retin-A.   It is also a skin saver for those suffering with acne.  Retin-A will turn back the hands of time.  It's literally what every dermatologist and plastic surgeon can agree on to fight the signs of aging.  

While it's a miracle cream, there is so much to say about it.  To give you the short version, Retin-A sheds your dead skin cells, forcing your skin to produce collagen, and bring fresh skin cells to the surface.  That's why it works to fight acne as well.  Your skin cells rejuvenate at night while you sleep.  That's why they say a good night's sleep is so important, so use your Retinol at night.

Here are the rules about using Retin-A that everyone should know:  

*Your skin must be dry after washing before you apply it.  I mean DRY!  They recommend waiting at least 20 minutes after you wash.  That's why I wash my face after work, then apply the cream right before bed.  

*You MUST wear sunscreen!  Because the Retin-A is pushing forward your fresh skin cells, they will be super sensitive to the sun and you will burn, causing more harm than good.  Sunscreen is very important when using this product.

*You have to be careful about facial waxing.  Tell the person who waxes you that you are using a Retin-A.  There is a different kind of wax they will use so they don't rip your skin off - trust me on this 😉

*While wrinkles around the eye are of concern to all of us, you have to keep it away from the eyes.  Retin-A is known to "travel" on it's own, so trust the process and keep it off your lid and not too close under the eye.  

Now that we addressed what not to do, let me tell you how to introduce your skin to Retin-A.  Because it's such a power-house of a product, it comes with some baggage.  Some very ugly baggage.  During the first 12 weeks using this cream your skin will shed, be overly dry, and very red.  Pretty, right?  In my research I found a way around this, sort of.

 

The best thing to do is start with over the counter Retinols.  These will break you into the Retin-A world.  Obviously, they are not as strong as the dermatologist prescribed product, but they do still offer benefits.  The over-the-counter versions have retinoic-acid in them, but basically they are encapsulated or coated with other materials that don't allow them to penetrate as deeply as their prescribed counter part.  That's not a bad thing.  Use one of them now to get you started.  I started this process back in January.  I made an appointment with my dermatologist and couldn't get in with him until July. In the meantime, I purchased the Roc Retinol cream.  Even over-the-counter creams should be slowly introduced.  I started by using it once a week.  After a few weeks I went to twice a week, and so on.  

Then came time to visit my derm and finally get on the real deal.  At this point, I am only using a .025% Tretanoin.  Once again, I started by using it once a week for a few weeks, then to twice a week.  Once I get up to every night I will request the .050%.

I have noticed a big change in my skin this year; especially recently being on the prescribed Retin-A.  Another secret I can share is that Walmart carries Differin.  It's the only over-the-counter true Retin-A.  It's only a .001%, but it's a start.  

Your skin may become very dry and tight; this is normal, and part of the process.  If you need to use a moisturizer, you are again going to have to wait about 20 minutes.  You want the Retin-A to really absorb into the skin, and not be diluted by your moisturizer.  Annoying, I know, but that's how it goes.

Retin-A can be expensive.  There are some coupons on www.goodrx.com, and you can request a prescription for Tretinoin which is made at the pharmacy, and often much cheaper. You only need a pea size for the entire face, so one tube will last you quite a while.  I believe I paid maybe $60 for my tube.

Please, please, take my recommendations, and take it slow.  I know you want results; I do too, but if you jump right in you will hate what happens to your skin, and you will give up.  Slow and steady wins the race, my friends.  

Every.Single.Time I ask my dermatologist to give me the answer to fighting wrinkles he says the same thing...sunscreen everyday.  No, no, I want him to let me in on the secret product that I can't get over the counter; that's going to help me hang on to my youth.  Yet, every time he gives me the same, boring answer...sunscreen.

He's not the only one, they all say it!  Every plastic surgeon or dermatologist in the world will tell you you need to be wearing a sunscreen every day.  It's so boring, yet, so obvious.  You know what's easier than correcting wrinkles and age spots?  Preventing them in the first place.  So, I started listening, and for over a year have been wearing a sunscreen every single day on my face.  

Please, do not tell me your makeup or moisturizer has SPF in it so you are covered.  Listen to me...it's not enough.  Let me explain it to you this way:  which is stronger...a straight shot of tequila, or a shot of tequila in your margarita?  I don't know about you, but a shot of it takes my party up a notch every time.  The same goes for the sunscreen; it's much more effective on it's own.  Wear it every day; just get in the habit.  I don't care if it's raining or snowing, just do it.  

 

I love this one from Pevonia because it's creamy and smooth.  Trust me, you will be so thankful in 10 years if you start today wearing sunscreen every single day.  Because this formula of sunscreen is hydrating I don't need an additional moisturizer.  If you still need a moisturizer then apply it before the sunscreen.  Sunscreen should be the shield over the top of everything else to protect your skin.

So, here we are; that is my full morning skin care routine right there.  Like I said, you do not have to use the Rose Hip Oil but, for skin like mine, I love it!

At this point in my morning skin care routine, I have washed my face and applied Vitamin C serum. I give that serum a minute to absorb before I head on to the next step. Now, this step is not necessary for all, and it's one I just recently added but have fallen in love with; it's Rose Hip Oil. One night I was browsing Facebook (imagine that), and found an article about the #1 recommended skin care product on Amazon. This one serum has over 2,000 five star reviews, so of course I had to learn more.

It's the Teddy Organics Rose Hip Oil. Like the Vitamin C serum, this serum boosts collagen and fights free radicals. It also fades wrinkles and heals the skin. That's where it got my attention; heals the skin. This serum is great for acne and rosacea. While I don't officially have rosacea, I do have very red skin, so I was very interested in the serum.

Let me tell you - it works! I have noticed that my skin feels so smooth, and the redness is diminishing for sure! If you don't struggle with acne or redness, and only want to get one serum, I would suggest the Vitamin C serum. If you have "special" skin like mine (to put it nicely) then get both.

Again, you only need a little. I literally apply two drops to my fingertips and press it into the skin. This bottle will last me forever for sure.

There is just one more product I use in the morning, so stay tuned and we will get to that one.

Welcome to Skin Care 101.  I have SO very much to say as it has been my mission this year to educate myself on the perfect, yet simple, anti-aging skincare routine.  It can be overwhelming when trying to find out what products are effective, and how many products you actually need to use.  In my quest for answers I have read information from plastic surgeons and dermatologists, as well as spoken to people in the field to find the common denominators.  Finally, I think I have nailed it.  

Because there is so much to say, I will be breaking up my information into several posts over the next few weeks, so please stay tuned.  I'm also not going to address the obvious: face washing.  We all know it's important to wash both morning and night.  Once I added a morning face wash into my routine I noticed a big change in my skin.  The washes I recommend are Cerve or Cetaphil; keep it basic and keep it cheap.  The idea behind washing is to remove the skin of dirt and makeup; you do not need to spend a lot of money here, so don't.

Now, let's move on to what I use after my morning face wash - Vitamin C serum.  It is hands down one of the most recommended products from the professionals.  Vitamin C serum helps correct hyper pigmentation (age spots), protects from further UV damage, boosts collagen, and brightens and lightens the skin.  All properties I think we can agree are very important.  

 

I noticed after a few months of using the serum that my skin actually got lighter; it seriously works.  I would recommend you find a serum that contains at least 20% Vitamin C.  There is one available on Amazon by Mad Hippie that comes highly recommended, and won't break the bank.  The one I use is by Pevonia, and I really like it because it has a creamy consistency.  Please be aware that you do not need a lot of serum on your face; too much in fact will likely cause a breakout.  Take a small amount of product on your finger tips, and press it into the skin rather than lathering it.  The smell is invigorating, and your skin will feel so refreshed.

These serums will last you a long time if you use the right amount.  Also, if using an actual serum it is best if you keep it somewhere dark; that is why the bottles are often a dark glass.  I keep my oils in my bathroom on the counter, which is fine because it never gets direct sunlight.  

As I mentioned, stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks as I share everything else I have learned on my quest to turn back time.  

 

Fair warning, you are about to be bombarded in my next few posts with information on skincare.  I have so much to say I don't know where to begin.  So I've decided to start simple, my new motto of course.

While washing your face is SUPER important, and I mean S U P E R important getting all the face wash off your face is also equally important.  Using your hands alone to wash is probably not getting the job done especially if you are removing makeup or a face mask.  That being said if you are using a scratchy wash cloth you are tearing your skin up and that is no good either.  So what's a girl to do?  

Diapers!  Yes, baby cloth diapers is what I use on my face everyday!  They are extremely soft and absorbent, not to mention cheap.  Trust me, your skin will thank you.  So hop over to your local Target grab yourself a pack of baby diapers.  If you manage to get out of Target with just baby diapers please teach me your ways.  My love for that place is a sore subject in my marriage 🙂

Where have I been?  Well there are so many answers to that question.  Have I been busy?  Sure, but not more than usual.  Did I run out of things to say?  Nope, I have a list full of topics to address.  So the only actual reason is... I just needed a break.  To be honest, I needed a break from a lot of things recently.  Life is busy, for all of us I imagine.  The world is crazy, and the fact that we can be exposed to all the madness at every moment through social media is overwhelming.  That's a great word actually, overwhelmed, yes I have been overwhelmed and quite frankly anxious.  It's an easy road for me to travel, and since adulthood it's one I have struggled with more often than I'd like to admit.  

You know that saying, "You can't be good for everyone else if you don't take care of yourself first"?  Well I thought that meant you can't run yourself into the ground or you will get physically ill; you know catch a cold, or end up with the flu.  Until now it never dawned on me that maybe people were actually talking of your mental health.  One day I was scrolling through Instagram and read a post from someone I follow who also found herself in an overwhelmed state.  She prescribed herself some "self-care".  My initial thought was, "what the hell is self-care?", then it dawned on me...Oh, self-care, I get it!  You know the idea that maybe everything in my world doesn't need to look Pinterest perfect at all times,  I don't actually have to workout all the time, going to bed a decent time might be a good change,  taking a moment to read a book or watch a movie actually isn't selfish.  Basically a little time to myself is allowed, and at this point vital.  I needed to slow down, I needed to breathe, I needed to say no; saying no was after all my New Year's resolution.  

So I did.  I get into bed earlier, I got a book from the library (its a parenting book, but I'm enjoying it and that's the point)  and sometimes I read that book in the lounge chair outside that my husband got me for my birthday, I curled up with my daughter and watched chick flicks, and I ditched my tough workouts and swapped them with long walks instead.  

I share this part of my life with you not for your sympathy, in fact, I hate that.  I share it because I know I am not alone.  At some point or other in our lives we all feel this way and it's OK.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  I beg you all to take some time for yourself, to relax without guilt.  Throw it right out the window.  We work hard to keep life running for ourselves and those we love, the worry we carry for others in our mind is heavy.  You don't deserve a break, you need it.  That was something I really had to come to terms with this year.  Breathe deeply my friends, and be free. 

While it might be here a little later than I promised, it’s time for my official review on LIPSENSE!  Lipsense is a non-toxic, water proof, KISS proof, lead free, wax free, gluten free, GMO free, Cruelty free, MADE IN THE USA, long lasting lip color. That’s enough to make your head spin right?  Mine too!

I’ll be honest, I resisted trying Lipsense for quite a while.  I'm not sure why exactly, but I did. Months ago I purchased one color, and I liked it very much; but at that time I didn’t buy the gloss, and I didn’t apply it as I should have. So, while I loved the color, it didn’t exactly turn me into a Lipsense groupie.

After repeated inquiries from my followers on my thoughts on Lipsense, I thought it was time to give it an official try, and do it right this time. Lipsense is sold through distributors, but not in stores. I reached out to my contact and ordered Aussie Rose. This is a color that is a little outside the box for me as I am typically a neutral kinda girl. But, I chose this shade because I felt like I could really see the quality of the color throughout the day.

On my first day I applied three coats of the product as instructed, and topped it off with the Glossy Gloss. It looked great and I was initially impressed. However, as the day went on I felt like the color was fading a bit, and my lips were oddly peeling layers of the color off. At this point I figured I had just wasted my money, and was ready to write a much different review.  In an effort to give it another try, I reached out to my contact again and sent her a picture of my lips. That’s when I learned that Lipsense requires a little technique.

Things to know…
1.  You should lightly shake your Lipsense before you apply.
2.  Make sure your lips are clean before you apply; using the Lipsense Oops Remover can assist with this.
3.  When you apply your three layers you need to do them each in the same direction; no back and forth swiping as you would with a typical lipstick
4.  You need to wait about 5 seconds in between each layer to allow it to set.
5.  Apply the Glossy Gloss (or Lipsense gloss of your choice, because there are multiple) many times throughout the day.

She also shared that many people endure a shedding period when they first try the Lipsense. This is because they have either used other products that have created a build-up on their lips, or their lips are a little dry.  Because Lipsense is loaded with Vitamin E it’s actually really good for your lips. She encouraged me to wear the color over the next couple of days to complete the shedding process. I decided to give it a go the following day, and my lips were already transformed. Here are a few pictures I documented throughout the day.

As you can see, it really stayed looking great all day long. While the color doesn’t transfer or move, the gloss will need to be reapplied throughout the day.

Later that evening I washed my face, and I was sure if I scrubbed hard enough I would be able to get it off my lips.  Wrong.  I literally had to use the Oops Remover to get it off!  It's seriously not going anywhere, so be sure when you apply you do so carefully.

After results like these you can imagine how many colors I ordered for my wedding parties! This will be perfect for them! 

 

Lipsense comes in 36 shades with 11 gloss choices, although Glossy Gloss seems to be a favorite.  A color is $25, glosses are $20, and Oops Remover is $10, which may seem a little steep, but I saw this chart and realized it totally makes sense. As I mentioned, you cannot find Lipsense in any stores. You will need a distributor to place an order. Most distributors order their stock monthly and you “shop their stock” for colors.  If you are looking for a specific color, that can make things a little tricky, but so far I have loved every color I have.

 I'm so glad to finally have brought this post to you.  So many people have asked me my thoughts on Lipsense for so long now.  Remember to find me on Instagram and Facebook ,(although I am much more interactive on IG these days).

If you follow me on Instagram you know I've been trying to find a cheaper replacement to my all-time favorite mascara, Too Faced Better than Sex.  At $23 the Too Faced mascara can be a little pricey.  My latest test was with the Loreal Voluminous Lash Paradise for just $9.99.  

 

 

From packaging alone it seems Loreal may have visions of becoming the coveted "dupe" for the Too Faced brand.  I mean, really, can you be any more obvious who you were going after?

At a glance, I first noticed the size and weight.  To the naked eye it would appear the Loreal mascara had much less product in it.  It certainly is not as large, and the Too Faced mascara weighed much more in my hand.  With fairness in mind, I wanted to see just what the quantity difference was exactly. 

Well, look at that! The Loreal actually has MORE product in it!

Now let's compare wands.  The Too Faced is larger and has a more dramatic shape to it.  However, the Loreal is similar in shape, but not quite there.  

So, how does the Loreal actually perform?  I actually really, truly LOVE it!  A mascara I will surely buy again and again.  One complaint I have about the Too Faced mascara is that it flakes, especially as you get to the bottom.  On one hand I think that's why I like the mascara, because I prefer a drier mascara.  With a  drier mascara you get less lash clumps, and each lash can be more easily defined and lengthened.   But, I find the dry flakes on my face annoying.  At this point, I have not had the flakes with the Loreal mascara, which I appreciate.  

That being said, I still think I get more definition from the Too Faced mascara.  I think it's because of the drama of the brush shape.  It really pulls each lash out and up.  

So what's a girl to do?  For me, I will have both (of course I will, right?).  The Loreal will be used on most days, and I'll save the Too Faced mascara for when I really have something going on besides work and my kids sports.  You know, so basically I'll never actually get to use the Too Faced mascara, but it will be waiting there for me when I'm ready.  

 

 

You may recall, I once confessed that I am a Latisse user.  As a self-proclaimed mascara junkie, I have a thing for lashes.  I have used Latisse for a few years, off and on, to grow my lashes.  But, Latisse is very expensive.  Recently, the salon I work for began to sell a new Lash Serum, and I was more than happy to give it a try.  

Let me say Grande Lash did not disappoint!  I actually have much better results from it than I did from Latisse!  If you are consistent, and I mean seriously faithful, your lashes will blow you away!  I have a friend who has longed for longer, fuller lashes forever.  I recommended it to her, and within two weeks she couldn't believe how incredible her lashes were.

Grande Lash couldn't be easier to use.  The box will direct you to apply it once a day at night.  Well, I did that for a few weeks and it definitely worked.  Then I got a tip to apply it twice a day, first thing in the morning and at night before bed.  LIFE CHANGING!  I'm not kidding, it's amazing!  Even without mascara my lashes look great; with mascara of course, it's even better!

 

Mind you, I am terrible at taking pictures of my eyes.  The angle...all wrong.  The lighting...all wrong, but that's what makes me real, right?  That's what I tell myself anyway.  However, I think my results speak for themselves.  Literally, almost every week someone asks me if I'm wearing false lashes.  

I'm sure you have seen so many other brands, and I can't speak for them since I have never tried them.  I'm sure they are wonderful as well.  So, if you were skeptical on the whole lash serum thing, it's no joke; you need to try it.   FYI, I started my recent lash journey in January, and my first bottle lasted me about 4 months.  

If you live in the Cincinnati area you can stop by any Paragon Salon to pick up yours, (no, I don't get paid to say that).  If you cannot get to a Paragon Salon, I'm sure you can find it online.

"18 Summers is All You Get", was the title of an article my friend recently sent me.  I couldn't even get past the title to open it.  Life is short, time with our children under our own roof is even shorter, and the reality of it is hitting me hard these days.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is about choices.  My work as a Makeup Artist is so fulfilling to me.  Using my talents to make women feel confident and beautiful is such a gift, and believe me when I tell you I'd love to do this 24/7.  These days I feel like there are two halves to me.  There is on one hand a woman who loves being an artist, and would pursue this career 24/7 without hesitation.  Then there is another part of me, a wife and mother of three who is obsessed with spending every free moment with her beautiful babies whether they like it or not.  And let's face it, the majority of my work happens on weekends and evenings.  Since my children are all now in school, that schedule doesn't work for me as it once did.  While I feel torn most of the time, I know where my heart truly lies:  with my children.

This year my business has exploded; not sure why but 2017 is the year to get married!  I have turned down more weddings this year than I can count, and it breaks my heart each time I have to say no.  But I have to say no.  I don't want to miss out on life with my family.  Missing soccer and baseball games pains me.  On the other hand, I feel like without having this outlet of artistry I wouldn't be myself either.  It's hard to feel so torn.  My plan for this year was to never take more than 2 weddings a month.  Well, I'm not sure what happened, but I didn't follow my own advice.  This month has been insane!  Hence, the lack of blog posts from me lately.  I think the reason I get myself into these situations is because you never know when the next job will come.  I may get 3 bookings one month, but have nothing the next month.  This year has taught me not to worry about that; the jobs will definitely come.  My schedule for this year is officially closed, and I plan to make a few changes for next year as well.  At this time I have also decided I will no longer do individual makeup lessons for those wanting to learn.  I'm always here to advise you, but it's too much of a struggle to find the time to meet.  My love for what I do is another reason I have decided to create some boundaries.  Keeping my artistry a hobby, and not a job, keeps it exciting to me.  I don't want to grow to hate something I love so very much by doing it too much.

 

Luckily for me, I have an amazing husband who can handle the shuffle of three kids with ease.  I'm also blessed to have parents who devote their weekends to my kids' games, so they are always happy to pitch in when we have to be two places at once.  Typically, I'm finished with my work by early afternoon, so I get the chance to race to those afternoon games.   When I can't make it, my kids are sure to fill me in on play by play (by play) of their games.

For now I'm going to focus on balance.  It's the key to life, right?  Balance between work and play;  balance between enjoying the food we love, and the food that's good for us; balance between getting things done, and taking time reset; balance between being with your kids every minute, and finding time for your spouse.  It's all about BALANCE.  It's the hardest struggle in life, but I think it's the key to a happy life.  

 

Be sure to follow me of Facebook & Instagram.  I'm going to try to be a little more active on my social media since the blog posts have been hit or miss lately.